tv C-SPAN Looks Back at Supreme Court Justices Confirmation Hearings CSPAN March 18, 2017 8:00pm-10:10pm EDT
>> next, ahead of the nomination for neil gorsuch, we will show you the and nomination remarks that each of the supreme court justices. after that, from january, president trump announcing his choice for supreme court. then a look at the career of neil gorsuch. >> the confirmation hearing for supreme court nominee judge neil gorsuch begins monday 11:00 a.m. eastern. you can see it live on c-span2. we look back to the opening statements of all 8 current supreme court justices at their confirmation hearings. the program includes remarks from senators introduced the nominees. this is under two hours. nominee neil court
gorsuch prepares to testify before the senate judiciary committee, c-span takes a look at the court's current justices. we begin with the longest sitting member of the court, anthony kennedy, appointed by ronald reagan. justice kennedy was confirmed unanimously in 1988. appointeed a nixon and previously served on the ninth circuit court of appeals. here is a brief portion of justice kennedy's confirmation hearing, beginning with an introduction from california, richmond robert matsui. mr. matsui: it's too bad that two individuals preceded judge kennedy for this nomination. i noticed the editorial in "the new york times" this morning, they made reference to judge bork and judge ginsburg and i new york times" this morning, say it's a shame because we shouldn't be here today
comparing judge kennedy to his two previous nominees. judge kennedy in and of himself is a superb candidate for the united states supreme court. and comparisons do not do this gentleman justice. he has a deep compassion for the law, as many of you know. he's highly intelligent from his academic record. we can discern that. and his experience, 12 years on the appellate court in california and in the western area demonstrates a level that very few nominees to the u.s. supreme court demonstrate. obviously judge kennedy is a conservative, and here we are as democrats. we support him because of our
personal knowledge of judge kennedy. i look back in sacramento county, where he grew up and where i grew up and i can talk to the one million people in sacramento county and not one of them would have anything negative to say about this candidate. one individual, when asked by a reporter what they thought of him said, they noticed a lack of an observable eagle. judge kennedy is a man of humility, he's a man of compassion. he's an individual that really has no ego and is an individual who will understand the plight of the common man when matters come before this court. i would also have toayven though he's a conservative and representative fazio and i are moderates to libers, we have a great deal of confidence in judge kennedy in terms of what
he'll do on the u.s. supreme court. if one looks at his opinions, one will notice he does have judicial restrain, but in 1987 that might make a lot of sense because that means he probably won't be overturning many of the decisions of the 1960's, 1950's, 1970's and 1980's and as a result of that you'll have stability on the court which i think all of us in the united states desire today. and let me make one further observation. you will hear testimony from the gentleman i have a great deal of admiration for in the next few days. the gentleman is from sacramento. his name is nathaniel colley. he is a black lawyer. he was former general counsel of the naacp. he was born in alabama, came to sacramento, opened up his law practice and became truly one of
the prominent lawyers in the united states. one of the great lawyers in the state of california. i'd like to read his testimony when he gives it because it will demonstrate the regard that lawyers, law students, ordinary individuals have for judge kennedy. i heartily endorse his nomination to the supreme court. you couldn't make a better selection. thank you. justice kennedy: i most appreciate the gracious welcome from members of the committee this morning and from senator wilson and the two distinguished congressmen from my district in sacramento, all three of whom i have known for a number of years. this is an appropriate time for me to thank the president for entrusting me with the honor of appearing before yous his nominee, for associate justice of the unid states.
my family share in extending great appreciation for showing this confidence in me. i wish, also, to thank the members of your committee, mr. chairman, for the most interesting and impressive set of meetings that i had with you and members of the senate as a whole over the last four weeks. these are denominated courtesy calls in the common parlance as , i understand it. it seems to me that is perhaps a somewhat casual term for what is a very important and significant part of the advise and consent process. in a number of these advise and consent discussions, mr. chairman, you, your colleagues
indicated that you wanted to explain to me your own views, your own convictions, your own ideas, your own concerns about the constitution of the united states. and you've indicated that reply or response is expected from me. -- new -- and in every case, mr. chairman, i was profoundly impressed by the deep commitment to constitutional rule and the deep commitment to judicial independence that each member of the united states senate has. i wish your workload were such you could give the experience that i've had to every nominee for appointment to the courts in the article 3 system. and now, mr. chairman, i understand it's appropriate and at your invitation i will introducmy family who are here with me.
my oldest son justin is a recent graduate of stanford and is now a assistant project manager for a major corporate relocation in sacramento and we're delighted to have him home with us in sacramento. his brother, gregory, our other son, is a senior at stanford and i'm authorized to assure the committee he's taken the lsat test and on his way to young -- to law school. our youngest child is kristen who is now a sophomore at stanford, majoring in liberal arts, particularly english and history. and finally my wife, mary who has the love and admiration of her family and also her 30 students in the golden empire school in sacramento. they most appreciate your invitation to be here today. thank you very much.
[inaudible] >> i certainly don't envy your tuition bill. [laughter] justice kennedy: i'd like that part of the record, mr. chairman. >> it's a sacrifice you're making and i mean that sincerely. i am pleased to move forward, judge, if you'd like. justice kennedy: that concludes my opening remarks, mr. chairman, and i am ready to receive the questions from you and your committee members. >> c-span's program on sitting supreme court justices continues with clarence thomas, nominated in 1991 by president george h.w. bush. justice thomas won confirmation by a narrow margin following hearings that included allegations of sexual harassment by a former colleague, anita hill. justice thomas replaced thurgood marshall on the court. he previously served for less than two years on the district by a narrow margin following hearings that included allegations of sexual harassment
of columbia circuit court of appeals, and before that as head of the equal employment opportunity commission. at his confirmation hearing, justice thomas was introduced by missouri republican senator john danforth. >> i have no doubt whatever in giving the committee this assurance, just as clarence thomas will resist any effort to impinge on his independence by seeking commitments on how he will decide cases before the court, so he will never become a sure vote for any group of justices on the court. for two months, i have noted with wonder the certainty of various interest groups as they have predicted how the nominee would vote on an array of issues. they don't know clarence thomas. i do. i cannot predict how he would vote on any issue.
he's his own person. that is my first point. second, he laughs. to some this may seem a trivial matter. second, he laughs. to me it's important because laughter is the antidote to that dread disease, federalitis. the obvious strategy of interest groups trying to defeat a supreme court nominee is to suggest that there is something weird about the individual. i concede there is something weird about clarence thomas. it's his laugh. it is the loudest laugh i have ever heard. it comes from deep inside and it shakes his body, and here is something at least as weird in this most uptight of cities. the object of his laughter is most often himself.
third, he is serious. deeply serious in his commitment to make a contribution with his life. i'll never forget visiting with clarence thomas after he had been nominated for a second term at the eeoc. i pressed him on why he would accept a second term. it's a thankless job, one when done well, makes everyone mad. it's a career blind alley. he answered simply, i haven't yet finished the job. i pondered that statement many times over the past five years. undoubtedly he meant he had not yet finished the job of transforming the eeoc from the administrative basket case he inherited to the first grade agency it is today. but i think he meant more than that. i think he meant that the
discrimination he's known in his own life is still too much with us. there is so much more to do if we were to end it. this is the seriousness of clarence thomas. it's not anger, as some have suggested. it's not a bitterness that eats away at him. but it's profound, and it forms the person he is and the justice he will become. i hope that some time in the days judge thomas will be before this committee, meone will ask him noabout on emerated rights or the establishment clause but about himself. what was it like to grow up under segregation? what was it like to be there when your grandfather was humiliated before your eyes? what was it like to be laughed
at by seminarians because you're black? everyone in the senate knows something about the legal issues before the supreme court. not a single member of the senate knows what clarence thomas knows about being poor and black in america. justice thomas: members of the committee, i am humbled and honored to be nominated by president bush to be an associate justice of the supreme court of the united states. i would like to thank the committee, especially you, chairman biden, for your extraordinary fairness throughout this process. chairman biden, for your and i would like to thank each of you and so many of your colleagues here in the senate for taking the time to visit with me. there are not enough words to express my deep gratitude and
appreciation to senator danforth, who gave me my first job out of yale law school. i have never forgotten the terms of his offer to me. more work for less pay than anyone in the country could offer. [laughter] believe me, he delivered on his promise, especially the less pay. [laughter] i appreciate his wise counsel and his example over the years and his tireless efforts on my behalf during the confirmation process. and i'd like to thank senators bond, nunn, fowler, warner and robb for taking the time to introduce me today. much has been written about my family and me over the past 10 weeks. through all that has happened throughout our lives and through
all adversity, we have grown closer and our love for each , other has grown stronger and deeper. i hope these hearings will help to show more clearly who this person clarence thomas is and what really makes me tick. my earliest memories, as alluded to earlier, are those of pinpoint, georgiaa life far removed in space and time from this room, this day and this moment. as kids, we caught minnows in the creeks, fiddler crabs in the marshes, we played with pluffers and skipped shells across the water. it was a world so vastly different from all this. in 1955, my brother and i went to live with my mother in savannah.
we lived in one room in a tenement. we shared a kitchen with other tenants, and we had a common bathroom in the back yard which was unworkable and unusable. it was heard but it was all we had and all tenement. we shared a kitchen with other . our mother earned $20 every two weeks as a maid. not enough to take care of us. so she arranged for us to live with our grandparents later in 1955. imagine, if you will, two little boys with all their belongings in two grocery bags. our grandparents were two great and wonderful people who loved us dearly. i wish they were sitting here today sitting here so they could
see that all their efforts, their hard work were not in vain. and so that they could see that hard work and strong values can make for a better life. i am grateful that my mother and my sister could be here. unfortunately, my brother could not be. i attended segregated parochial schools and later attended a seminary near savannah. the nuns gave us hope and belief in ourselves when society didn't. they reinforced the importance in our personal lives. sister mary, my eighth grade teacher, and the other nuns were unyielding in their expectations that we use all of our talents no matter what the rest of the world said or did. after high school, i left savannah and attended immaculate
conception seminary. then, holy cross college. i attended yale law school. yale had opened its doors, its heart, its conscience to recruit and admit minority students. i benefited from this effort. my career is as been delineated today. as an assistant attorney general in the state of missourii was an attorney in the corporate law department of monsanto company. i joined senator danforth's staff here in the senate. i was an assistant secretary in the department of education, chairman of eeoc, and since 1990 a judge on the u.s. court of appeals for the district of columbia circuit. but for the efforts of so many others who have gone before me i
would not be here today. it would be unimaginable. only by standing on their shoulders could i be here. at each turn in my life, each obstacle confronted, each fork in the road, someone came along to help. i remember, for example, the 1974 after i completed law school, i had no money, no place to live. mrs. margaret bush wilson, who would later become chairperson of the naacp, allowed me to live at her house. she provided me not only with room and board, but advice, counsel, and guidance. as i left her house that summer, i asked her, how much do i owe you?
her response was, just along the way, help someone who's in your position. i have tried to live by my promise to her to do just that, to help others. so many others gave their lives, their blood, their talents, but for them i would not be here. justice marshall, whose seat i've been nominated to fill, is one of those who had the courage and the intellect. he'one of the great architects of the legal battles to open doors that seemed so hopelessly and permanently sealed. and to knock down barriers that seemed so insurmountable to those of us in the pinpoint, georgias of the world. the civil rights movement. reverend martin luther king and
the sclc. roy wilkins and the naacp. whitney young in the urban league. fannie lou hamer, rosa parks and dorothy height -- they changed society and reached out and affirmatively helped. i have benefited greatly from their efforts. but for them, there would have been no road to travel. my grandparents always said, there would be more opportunities for us. i can still hear my grandfather -- y'all going to have more of a chance than me. and he was right. he felt that if others sacrificed and created opportunities for us, we had an obligation to work hard, to be decent citizens, to be fair and good people.
and he was right. you see, mr. chairman, my grandparents grew up and lived their lives in an era of blatant segregation and overdiscrimination. their sense of fairness was molded in a crucible of unfairness. i watched as my grandfather was called "boy." i watched as my grandmother suffered the indignity of being denied the use of a bathroom. but through it all, they remained fair, decent, good people. fair in spite of the terrible contradictions in our country. they were hardworking,
productive people who always gave back to others. they gave produce from the farm, fuel oil from the fuel oil truck. they bought groceries for those who were without. and they never lost sight of the promise of a better tomorrow. i follow in their footsteps, and i have always tried to give back. over the years, i have grown and matured. i've learned to listen carefully, carefully to other points of views and to others, to think through problems, recognizing that there are no easy answers to difficult problems, to think deeply about those who will be affected by
the decisions that i make and the decisions made by others, but i have always carried in my heart the world, the life, the people and the values of my youth. the values of my grandparents and my neighbors. the values of people who believed so very deeply in this country in spite of all the contradictions. it is my hope that when these hearings are completed that this committee will conclude that i am an honest, decent, fair person. i believe that the obligations and responsibilities of a judge in essence involve just such basic values. a judge must be fair and impartial. a judge must not bring to his job, to the court, the baggage of preconceived notions of
ideology, and certainly not an agenda. and the judge must get the decision right. because when all is said and done, the little guy, the average person, the people of pinpoint the real people of , america will be affected by not what we judges do but by the way we do our jobs. if confirmed by the senate, i pledge that i will preserve and protect our constitution and carry with me the values of my heritage, fairness, integrity, open-mindedness, honesty and hard work. thank you, mr. chairman. >> the next justice to be appointed to the supreme court was ruth bader ginsburg in 1993.
nominated to fill the seat of kennedy appointee byron white, justice ginsburg was confirmed by a vote of 86-3. she previously served on the district of columbia court of appeals and was the second woman nominated. new york democratic senator daniel patrick moynihan introduced judge ginsburg at her confirmation hearing. >> judge ginsburg is perhaps best known as the lawyer and litigator who raised the issue of equal rights for women to the level of constitutional new york democratic senator daniel patrick moynihan introduced judge ginsburg at her principle. she has also distinguished herself in a wide range of legal studies, and for the last 13 years has been one of our nation's most respected jurists on the united states court of appeals for the district of columbia circuit. i must tell you that senator d'amato and i will take special pride in her nomination.
she was born and raised in brooklyn. the day after her nomination, the front page of "the new york daily news" exclaimed, a judge grows. she was elected phi beta kappa, major columbia law school she , was at two law schools. beginning at harvard and finishing at columbia soon she could be with her husband, when practice law in new york. never before than ruth bader ginsburg had someone been both part of the both harvard and columbia law reviews. with such a record, you would think it not surprising that she should be recommended to serve as a law clerk to supreme court justice frankfurter.
neither is it surprising that a time she has changed, justice frankfurt thought it would be inappropriate to have a woman clerk. she clerked for judge edmond palmieri, and then entered the columbia law school project on international procedures. she taught at rutgers law school. then columbia, becoming one of the first tenured women professors in the country and then became the moving force behind the women's rights project of the american civil liberties union. the prime architect of the fight to invalidate discriminatory laws against individuals on the basis of gender. her imprint be o virtually every gender case which reached the supreme court in the 1970's.
she herself argued six of the justice ginsburg: thank you, mr. chairman, senator hatch and other members of the committee. may i say first how much i appreciate the time that committee members took to greet me in the weeks immediately following the president's nomination. it was a particularly busy time for you, and i thank you all the more for your courtesy. to senator moynihan who has been at my side every step of the way, a thousand thanks could not begin to convey my appreciation.
despite the heavy demands on his time during trying days of budget reconciliation, he accompanied me on visits to senate members. he gave over his own desk for my youth. -- for my use. in all, he served as the kindest, wisest counselor a nominee could have. senator d'amato with senator moynihan sponsored to nominate me and i am grateful to him. i have had many enlightening
conversations in senate chambers since june 14, but my visit with senator d'amato was sheer fun. senator d'amato: it always is. [laughter] justice ginsburg: my children decided at an early age that a mother's sense of humor needed improvement. they tried to supply that improvement and kept a book to record their successes. the book was called "mommy laughed." my visit with senator d'amato would have supplied at least three entries for the "mommy laughed" book. representative norton has been my professional colleague and friend since days when we were still young. as an advocate of human rights
and fair chances for all people, eleanor holmes norton has been as brave and as vigilant as she is brilliant. i am so pleased that she was among my introducers and so proud to be one of eleanor's constituents. most of all, the president's confidence in my capacity to serve as a supreme court justice is responsible for the proceedings about to begin. there are no words to tell him what is in my heart. i can say simply this. if confirmed, i will try in every way to justify his faith
in me. i am, as you know from my responses to your questionnaire a brooklynite, born and bred. a first generation american on my father's side. barely second generation on my mother's. neither of my parents had the means to attend college but both taught me to love learning, to care about people and to work hard for whatever i wanted or believed in. their parents had the foresight to leave the old country when jewish ancestry and faith met exposure and denegation of one's
human worth. what has become of me could happen only in america. like so many others, i owe so much to the entry this nation afforded to people yearning to breathe free. i had the great good fortune to share life with a partner, truly extraordinary for his generation, a man who believed at age 18 when we met and who believed today that a woman's work, whether at home or on the
job, is as important as a man. i became a lawyer in days when women were not wanted by most members of the legal profession. i became a lawyer because marty and his parents supported that choice unreservedly. i have been deeply moved by the outpouring of good wishes received in recent weeks from family, neighbors, classmates, students at rutgers and columbia, law-teaching colleagues, lawyers with whom i have worked, judges across the country and many women and men
who do not know me. that huge spirit-lifting collection shows that while many of our people and individual sex is no longer remarkable or even unusual with regard to his or her qualifications to serve on the supreme court. indeed, in my lifetime, i expect to see three, four, perhaps even more women on the high court bench, women not shaped from the same mold but of different complexions. yes, there are miles in front but what a distance we have traveled from the days president thomas jefferson told his secretary of state, the appointment of women to public office is innovation for which
the public is not prepared nor, jefferson added, am i. the increasingly full use of the talent of all of this nation's people holds large promise for the future, but we could not have come to this point, and i surely would not be in this room today without the determined efforts of men and women who kept dreams alive, dreams of equal citizenship in the days when few would listen. people like susan b. anthony, elizabeth katy stanton, and harriet tubman come to mind. i stand on the shoulders of
those brave people. supreme court justices are guardians of the great charter that has served as our nation's fundamental instrument of government for over 200 years. it is the oldest written constitution still enforced in the world. but the justices do not guard constitutional rights alone. courts share that profound responsibility with congress, the president, the states and the people. constant realization of a more perfect union, the constitution's aspiration, requires the widest, broadest, deepest participation on matters
of government and government policy. one of the world's greatest jurist, judge hand, said, as senator mosley braun reminded us, that the spirit of liberty in our constitution must lie first and foremost in the hearts of the men and women who compose this great natio judge hand defined that spirit in a way that i fully embrace as one which is not too sure it is right, and so seeks to understand the minds of other men and women and to weigh the interest of others alongside its own without bias. the spirit judge hand strived for a community where the least
shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest. i will keep that wisdom in the front of my mind as long as i am capable of judicial service. some of you asked me during recent visits why i want to be on the supreme court. it is an opportunity beyond any other for one of my training to serve society. the controversies that come to the supreme court as a last judicial resort touch and concern the health and well-being of our nation and its people.
they affect the preservation of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. serving on this court is the highest honor, the most awesome trust that cane placed in a judge. it means working at my craft working with and for the law as a way to keep our society both ordered and free. let me try to state in a nutshell how i view the work of judging. my approach, i believe, is neither liberal nor conservative. rather, it is rooted in the place of the judiciary, of judges in our democratic society. the constitution's preamble
speaks first of we the people. and then of their elected representatives. the judiciary is third in line and it is placed apart from the political fray so that its members can judge fairly, impartially, in accordance with the law and without fear about the animosity of any pressure group. in alexander hamilton's words, the mission of judges is to secure a stead uight andlaws. i would add that the judge should carry out that function without fanfare, but with due care. she should decide the case before her without reaching out to cover cases not yet seen.
she should be ever mindful, as judge and then justice benjamin said, justice is not to be taken by storm. she is to be wooed by slow advances. we, this committee and i, are about to embark on many hours of conversation. you have arranged this hearing to aid you in the performance of a vital task. to prepare your senate colleagues for consideration of my nomination. the record of the constitutional convention shows that the delegates had initially entrusted the power to appoint
federal judges, most prominently supreme court justices, not to the president. but to you and your colleagues. to the senate. acting alone. only in the waning days of the convention did the framers settle on a nomination role for the president and andvice and consent role for the senate. the text of the constitution as finally formulated makes no distinction between the appointment process for supreme court justices and the process for other offices of the united states. for example, cabinet offices. but, as history bears out, you and senators past have sensibly considered appointments in relation to the appointees' task. federal judges may long outlast
the president who appoints them. they may serve as long as they can do the job, as the constitution says, they may remain in office during good behavior. supreme court justices most notably participate in shaping a lasting body of constitutional decisions. they continuously confront matters on which the framers left things unsaid, unsettled or uncertain. for that reason, when the senate considers the supreme court nomination, the senators are properly concerned about the nominee's capacity to serve the nation not just r the here and now, but over the long term.
you have been supplied in the five weeks since the president announced my nomination with hundreds of pages about me and thousands of pages i have penned. my writings as a law teacher, mainly about procedure. 10 years of briefs filed when i was a courtroom advocate of the equal stature of men and women before the law. numerous speeches and articles on that same thing. 13 years of opinions touting the unpublished together with the published opinions, well over of -- over 700 of them. all decisions i made with the court of appeals of the district of columbia circuit.
several comments on the roles of judges and lawyers in our legal system. that body of material i know has been examined by the committee with care. it is the most tangible, reliable indicator of my attitude, outlook, approach and style. i hope you will judge my qualifications principally on that written record. a record spanning 34 years and that you will find in that written record assurance that i am prepared to do the hard work and to exercise the informed independent judgment that supreme court decision making entails. i think of these proceedings much as i do of the division
between the written record and briefs on the one hand and oral arguments on the other in appellate tribunals. the written record is by far the more important component in an appellate court's decision making. but the oral argument often elicits helpful clarifications and concentrates the judges' minds on the character of the decisions they are called upon to make. there is, of course, this critical difference. you are well aware that i come to this proceeding to be judged as audge, not as an advocate.
because i am and hope to continue to be a judge, it would be wrong for me to say or to preview in this legislative chamber how i would cast my vote on questions the supreme court may be called upon to decide. were i to rehearse here what i would say and how i would reason on such questions, i would act injudiciously. judges in our system are bound to decide concrete cases, not abstract issues. each case comes to court based on particular facts and the decision to turn on those facts and the governing law stated and
explained in light of the particular arguments, the parties or their representatives present. a judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecast, no hints. for that would show not only disregard for the specifics of the particular case, it would display disdain for the entire judicial process. similarly, because you are considering my capacity for independent judging, my personal views on how i would vote on a publicly debated issue were i in your shoes, were i a legislator, are not what you will be closely examining.
as justice wendell holmes -- oliver wendell holmes counseled, one of the most sacred duties of a judge is not to read her convictions into the constitution. i have tried and i will continue to try to follow the model justice holmes set in holding that duty sacred. i see this hearing as i know you do as a grand opportunity once again to reaffirm that civility, courtesy and mutual respect properly keynote our exchanges. judges, i am mindful, owe the elected branches, the congress and the president, respectful
consideration of how court opinions affect their responsibilities. and i am heartened by legislative branch reciprocal sensitivity. as one of you said two months ago at a meeting of the federal judges association, we in congress must be more thoughtful, more deliberate in order to enable judges to do their job more effectively. as for my own department, or in -- deportment or in the constitution's words, good behavior, i prize advice received on this nomination from a dear friend, frank griffin, a recently retired justice of the supreme court of ireland.
justice griffin wrote, courtesy too and consideration for one's colleagues, the legal profession, and the public are among the greatest attributes a judge can have. it is fitting, as i conclude this opening statement, to express my deep respect, my deep respect for and abiding appreciation to justice white for his 31 years and more of fine service on the supreme court. in acknowledging his colleague'' good wishes on the occasion of his retirement, justice white wrote that he expects to sit on u.s. courts of appeals from time to time. and so to be a consumer of
instead of a participant in supreme court opinions. he expressed a hope shared by all lower court judges. he hoped that the supreme court's mandate will be clear and crisp, leaving as little room as possible for disagreement about their meaning. if confirmed, i will take that counsel to heart and strive to write opinions that both get it right and keep it tight. thank you for your patience. >> thank you very much, judge ginsburg. now what we will do, as i previously announced, we will recess and reconvene at 3:15.
[indiscernible] >> you're watching a special program on sitting supreme court justices. steven breyer was appointed by president bill clinton in 1994 to fill the seat of nixon appointee harry blackmun. justice breyer was confirmed by a vote 87-9 and came to the court after serving as chief judge on the first circuit court of appeal. his career in government included a role as assistant special prosecutor during the watergate investigation. at his confirmation hearing, justice breyer was introduced by massachusetts senator ted kennedy. mr. kennedy: in his decisions he's construed the constitution to defend the basic rights of all americans.
he has protected the right of women seeking family planning advice to hear about their right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. he has protected the right of government employees to engage in political activity. and advoca. he has protected the right of students belonging to a church group to be recognized by a state university. he has protected the right of every citizen to rent or buy housing free from the threat of discrimination. his opinions on environmental laws have been praised by environmentalists. his opinions in criminal law cases seek to assure public safety while protecting the constitutional rights of defendants. as one of the first members of the sentencing commission, he has s widely credited with developing the guidelines to reduce the disparities in sentences given to defendants committing similar crimes. as a judge, he has also continued his dedication to teaching and legal scholarship. in addition to his administrative and judicial
duties, he has continued to teach courses at harvard law school and he has also continued to write and publish articles and books analyzing important issues of law and government. judge breyer ranks among the country's most thoughtful scholars of the regulatory process, and his knowledge and experience in this complex area of the law will be a major asset to all the members of the supreme court from the day he takes his seat. his most recent book on regulation drew praise from leading experts on all sides of the debate. he has sought to ensure that the public health and safety are protected while avoiding needless inefficiency and waste in government. not everyone agrees with all of his views. but i suspect that everyone will agree that his views have contributed immensely. to our understanding of these complex issues in our modern society. in addition, perhaps because of his service to the senate, judge breyer has emerged as one of the leading exponents of the view that laws should be construed in
the manner that congress intended. if confirmed, he will add a needed and well informed perspective to the many important questions of statutory interpretation that come before the supreme court. mr. breyer: at the outset, mr. chairman, i'd like to thank this committee for the serious attention that you all have paid my nomination. i appreciate the members taking the time out of enormously busy schedules. to meet with me personally. i recognize that you and your staffs have really prepared thoroughly for these hearings and you've read the books and articles and the opinions and these things i've written. it seems to me that's some kind of new form of cruel and unusual punishment. there are many, many other people i'd like to thank today. i'm obviously and very much deeply grateful to senator kennedy who has given me so much over the years.
i've learned and continue to learn lessons of great value from him. and i really want to thank very much senator kerry and senator boxer for having come and taken the time to come here along with senator feinstein for supporting my nomination. justice breyer: i am especially grateful to president clinton. thank you for nominating me to a position that i said and do find humbling to think about. if i am confirmed, i will be tried to become a justice who would justify the confidence that he and you have placed in may. i would like to begin by telling you a little bit about myself that you have heard quite a lot. maybe if you of the experiences that i have had in my life. there had an important effect on my life and who i am. i grew up in tampa to scout.
-- san francisco. my mother was from st. paul, her parents were immigrants. my mother was a very ,ntelligent, very practical spirited person. she had an honest influence on me. she was the one that made absolutely clear to me that whatever intellectual ability i might have means nothing. it won't mean anything unless i can work with other people and use whatever talents i have to help them. so i joined the boy scouts, i worked as a delivery boy, i did ages for the elect -- dug ditches. policeman,e, you had
firemen, employers, doctors, businessmen, they were all there at the city cap for two weeks in the summer. my mother really didn't want me to spend to much time with by books. -- my books. she was right. my ideas about people don't come from libraries. my father was born in san francisco. he worked as a lawyer and an administrator in the san francisco of a school system for 40 years. i have his watches. he was a vy kind, astute and considerate man. he and san francisco helped me forevelop a trust and love the possibilities of a democracy. me intor always took the voting booth, i would pull the lever. he would say that we are exercising our prerogative.
he would take the two candidates nights. our school used to go up to sacramento to see the legislature session. all of this led me to believe not just that the government can help people but that the government is the people. it is created through their active participation. , despite the increased cynicism about physical government, we have seen vastness in the improvement of government. i believe that the trust and cooperation and participation, people can work through their government to improve their lives. 1957, i served in the army for a wild. i studied in england. justice arthur goldberg who became a wonderful lifelong friend. after two years, the antitrust
division and the justice department, i went back to harvard to teach and to live and for the last 27 years, i have been privileged to live in cambridge, work in boston. i love teaching. i love my students. if i were to pick out one -- feature of the academics out of my life that really influenced me especially, i think it would be this. the opportunity to study law helped me to understand that everything in the law is related to every other thing and that whole law reflects not so much logic as history and experience. academic lawyers, practicing lawyers,government judges, in my opinion at a special responsibility to try to understand how different parts of that seamless web of the law interact with each other and how legal decisions will actually work in practice to affect
people and to help them. working here on this committee in the 1970's, i learned a great deal about congress, government and political life. there were disagreements to resolve. everyone shared the same basic ground rules. basic assumptions about democracy, freedom, fairness and the need to help others. these vast areas of widely shared belief are what should the law of america. since 1980, i've been a judge on the u.s. court of appeals at , puertoassachusetts rico and rhode island. because of my colleagues and the work itself, this job is a great honor. a great privilege. it has been a great pleasure to have. i've tried to minimize what i think of as some of the less desirable aspects of the job.
on the justice goldberg felt strongly about. the judges can become isolated theireople whose lives decisions affect. i continue to teach and participate in the community. they are important and connecting me to the world outside of the courtroom. and been helped by my wife her work at cambridge hospital. it shows me some of the sadness in this world. believe the law must work for people. constitution,y of statutes, rules, regulations, taxes -- practices, procedures, purpose.st web has a that is to help the different
individuals that make up america. from so many different backgrounds and circumstances. with so many different needs and hopes, its purpose is to help them live together productively, harmoniously and in freedom. keeping that ultimate purpose in mind helps guide the judge through the labyrinth of rules and regulation that the law too often becomes. at the bottom,s the very human goals that underlie the constitution and the statuteshat congress rights. i believe in the importance of listening to other points of view. as a teacher, i discovered i could learn as much from students as from books.
on the staff of this committee, it was easy to see how my senators and staff alike learn from each other, constituents, hearings, i think the system works that way. it works better than any other system. is to keep trying to improve it. diploma refers to law as those wise restraint that make men free. women too. all of it. i believe that as well. i really felt the particular twortant of all this when years ago, i had the good fortune to attend a meeting of 500 judges. what judges wanted to know words they might write in a constitution. what words were guaranteed for democracy and freedom.
that is they asked over a two day meeting. they were interesting discussions. very interesting. my own reply is that words alone are not sufficient. the words of our constitution work because of the tradition of our people. of americansrity believe in democracy. they try to be tolerant and fair to others and respect the liberty of each other. even those who are unpopular, their protection is our protection to. -- as well. you are now considering my appointment to the supreme court of the united states. that court words within grand tradition that has made meaningful and practice the guarantees of fairness and a freedom that the constitution provides. blackmun served that
tradition well. so have those who served in the recent past, justice white, justice brennan, justice marshall. expiring --n inspiring legacy. you and i promise the american people that if i am confirmed to be a member of the supreme court, i will try to be worthy of that great tradition. i will work hard. i will listen. in accordance with its basic purposes, above all, i will remember that the decisions i have to make will have an effect upon the lives of many americans.
utmost tomy absolute see that those decisions reflect both the letter and the spirit of a lot that is meant to help them. thank you mr. airman. may i add one thing. thing.nt to add one recently, i know this is important to me, in recent weeks, there have been questions raised about the ethical standard that i applied and sitting on certain environmental cases. at the time, i had an insurance investment. i recognize that this question has been raised by people of good faith. there is nothing more important to me than my integrity and my reputation for impartiality.
it is obviously a most important thing to preserve total public confidence in the integrity of the judicial branch of government. i've reviewed those clays -- if i ever reviewed those cases again, i'm personally confident that my sitting in those cases did not prevent any conflict of interest. -- thise, my investment goes to the public. there has been no suggestion that he was involved in any of the cases in which i sat. statutecial recusal does require recusal if you have one case that has some kind of direct financial impact on some investments. that is to say if it is not a speculative or remote or contingent impact, the cases in which i sat to not violate the standard either. carefully has been reviewed.
as i said, i recognize the importance of avoiding conflict of interest or the appearance of such conflict. that standard is essential for all judges and especially essential or judges of the nation's highest court. meetl do all i can to this. what i will immediately do is as people who handl my investments to -- resigned in 1988. once in the can remains open. i've been advised that i can leave altogether by 1995. i intend to ask the people involved to expedite my complete termination of any relationship with lloyds. finally, as i go forward, i will take into account in reviewing any possible conflict whatsoever.
>> thank you very much judge. flex a supreme court nominee neil gorsuch prepares to testify before the senate judiciary committee, they look at the a current members. george w. bush nominated john roberts to take the seat of retiring justice sandra day o'connor. he was put forward as a nominee chief justice. he was confirmed by a vote of 78 to 22. he served as principal deputy solicitor general. at his confirmation hearing, john roberts was introduced by john warner. >> i firmly believe that john
roberts shares in the ethical duty to give back to the community. the hundreds and hundreds of oors he spent working bono cases are a testament to that. he didn't have to do any of it. the bar doesn't require it. he did it out of his heart and obligation. those who know him best can also attest to the kind of christian is. throughout his legal career, both in private practice. those attorneys know him well and typically speak with one voice when they tell you the dignity, humility and sense of fairness that are the hallmarks of this nominated. i take a moment to remind all presidents and those listening and following that this exact week, 218 weeks ago, the founding fathers
finished the u.s. draft of the u.s. constitution after a long, hot summer of drafting and debating. when ben franklin ultimately emerged from independence hall, the reporter asked him " mr. franklin, what have you brought?" he said, a republic if you can keep it. that is what this is all about. while the constitution sets the course of our nation, it is without question that the chief justice of the supreme court must have his hand firmly on the pulse to keep our great ship of state on a course of consisten -- a course, consistent with the constitution. justice warner and breyer. confidenced by his
and if confirmed, i will do everything i can to be worthy of the high tstee has placed in may. justice roberts: let me thk you mr. chairman and members of the committee for the many courtesies you have extended to me and my family over the past eight weeks. i'm grateful to all the members who have been so accommodating in meeting with me personally. i found those meetings very useful. as the committee undertakes its constitutional responsibility of advice and consent. i know that i would not be here today were it not for the -- overes and health the years of my family who you met earlier today. friends, mentors, teachers and colleagues, many of whom are here today. last week, one of those mentors and friends -- william rehnquist was laid to rest. with the nurses who
have care for him over the past year. i was glad to hear from them that he was not a good patient. he chafed at the limitations they try to impose. -- tried to impose. his dedication over the past year to me and many others was obvious, i will miss him. personal appreciation that i owe a great debt to others reinforces my do that a certain humility should characterize the judicial role. judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. like umpires. umpires don't make the rules, they apply them. the role of an umpire and a judge is critical. then they make se th evybody plays by the rules. it is a limited role. nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire. judges have to have the humility
to recognize that they operate presidentystem and shaped by judges. judges have to have the modesty to be open in the decisional process to the views of their colleagues on the bench. mr. chairman, when i worked for the department of justice and the office of the solicitor general, it was my job to argue fors for the united states the supreme court. i always found it very moving to stand before the justices and say that i speak for my country. it was after i left the department that we argued the cases against the united states that i fully appreciated the importance of the supreme court constitution. here was the united states, the most powerful entity in the world. they were aligned against my client and yet all i had to do was convince the court that i
was right on the law and the government was wrong and all -- power might that is a remarkable thing. it is what we mean when we say we are a government of laws, not of men. it is that rule of law that protects the rights and liberties of all americans. it is the envy of the world. the rule of law, any rights are meaningless. president ronald reagan used to speak of the soviet constitution and he noted that it purported to grant wonderful right of all sorts to people. those rights were empty promises. that system did not have an independent judiciary to uphold the rule of law and enforce those rights. we do. because of the was them of our founders, the sacrifices of our tooes, over the generations make their vision a reality.
mr. chairman, i come before the committee with no agenda. i have no platform. judges are not politicians. the promise to do certain things in exchange for votes, i have no agenda but i do have a commitment. if i'm confirmed, i will confront every case with an open mind. analyzeully and fairly the legal arguments that are presented. the views ofn to my colleagues on the bench and i will decide every case based on record, according to the rule of fear orout here -- favor to the best of my ability. i will remember that it is my strikesall balls and and not to pitch or bat. indiana, iboyhood in think all of us retained from the days of our youth certain enduring images.
for me, those images are of the endless fields of indiana, stretching to the horizon. and awaited only by an isolated silo or barn. as i grew older, those endless fields came to represent the limitless possibilities of our great land. growing up, i never imagined i would be here. ,ot in the system work room nominated to be the chief justice. now that i am here, i recall those endless fields with the promise of infinite possibilities. , a veryory inspires me profound commitment. if i am confirmed, i will be vigilant to protect the independence and integrity of the supreme court. ensure that it uphold the rule of law -- upholds the rule of law. land isake sure this
one of endless possibilities for all americans. thank you members of the committee and thank you chairman. i look forward to your questions. >> george w. bush's second nominee to the supreme court was judge samuel alito. he was confirmed 58-42. just four months after the confirmation of chief justice john roberts. been unanimously confirmed to the court of appeals. at his confirmation hearing, justice alito was introduced by christine todd whitman. other americans, i have read any articles dsecting positions that judge alito has taken throughout his career. trying to discern how he might side on issues likely to appear before the supreme court that he
would confront as a justice. i too have examined the record. in my final analysis, mike decision to support -- my alitoon to support judge is not based on anything -- on some make a great political issues, i know there are others on which we disagree. nevertheless, one's agreement or disagreement is ultimately irrelevant to the issue of whether or not judge alito should serve as an associate justice of the supreme court. rule is not to rule on justice's persuasions. only the facts of that particular case.
those decisions are grounded in the hard reality undisputed fact and the messiness of the real world. they are also guided by principles of law and justice which have long been treasured by the people of this country. for justices that understand that it's incomplete in the very core of their being. -- instinctively in the very core of their being. exhibit the same as a supreme court justice. policy in the united states is defined through the law crafted by the various branches of the government. oudg make decisions based on their interpretation of the intent of those laws. we don't want justices to confirm their decisions and ideologies. we do want justices whose opinions are shaped by the facts
before them and by their understanding of the constitution. we should also look for justices who possess the qualities of intellect and humility. desirable from those with great responsibility. in an understandable about -- language. we should expect that justices will hold philosophies that will guide the decisions. we should equally expect that they will not hold ideologies that will predetermine their decisions. that is the genius of our system. chairman, some have suggested that judge alito has an ideological agenda. i believe that an honest and find thateview will only his agenda -- his fidelity to the judicial craft. >> thank you very much. i am deeply honored to appear before you.
i'm deeply honored to have been nominated for a position on the supreme court. i am humbled to have been minated for the seat that is now held by justice of,. justice o'connor has been a pioneer justice alito:. for dedicated service -- i'm very thankful to the president for nominating me and i am also thankful to the members of this committee and many other senators who took time from their busy schedules to meet with me. that was a great honor for may. i appreciate all of the courtesies that were extended to make during those visits. i want to thank senator lautenberg and government -- governor whitman for coming kind and for their introductions.
an old story about a lawyer has come to my mind. i thought i might begin this afternoon i sharing that story. the story goes as follows. this was a lawyer who never argued a case before. again --argument began, one of the justices said how had you begotten here? the lawyer was rather nervous and he took the question literally and he said i came ohioon the baltimore and railroad. this story has come to my mind because in recent weeks i have often asked myself how the world did i get here? i want to try to angela today. not by saying that i came here on i-95 or on amtrak. who i am because of my parents and because of the things that they taught me. i know from my own experience as
a parent that parents teach most powerfully not through words but deeds. parents taught me through the stories of their lives. i don't take any credit for the things they did or the things they experience, but they made a great impression on me. my father lost his mother as a teenager and grew up in poverty. of hisuated at the top high school class but he had no money for college. he was set to work in a factory. but at the last minute, a kind person in the trenton area arnged for him to receive a $50 scholarship. that allowed him to pay the tuition of a local college and buy one used to suit. after he graduated from college, in 1935, in the midst of the depression, he found that teaching jobs for italian americans were not easy to come
by and he had to find other work for a while. but eventually he became a teacher. and he served in the pacific during world war ii, when he worked, as has been mentioned, in a nonpartisan position for the new jersey legislature, which was an institution that he revered. his story is a story that is typical of a lot of americans, both back in his day and here, and today. and it is a story, as far as i can see it, about the opportunities that our country offers. and also about the need for fairness and about hard work and perseverance and the power of a small good deed. my mother is a first generation american.
her father worked in the steel mill in trenton, new jersey. her mother came from a culture in which women generally didn't even leave the house alone. and yet my mother became the first person in her family to get a college degree. she worked for more than a decade before marrying. she went to new york city to get a master's degree. and she continued to work as a teacher and a principal until she was forced to retire. both she and my father instilled in my sister and me a deep love of learning. i got here in part because of the community in which i grew up. it was warm but definitely unpretentious, down to earth community. most of the adults in the neighborhood were not college graduates. i attended the public schools. in my spare time i played baseball and other sports with my friends. and i have happy memories and strong memories of those days. and good memories of the good
sense and the decency of my friends and my neighbors. after i graduated from high school, i went a full 12 miles down the road, but really to a different world. when i entered princeton university. a generation earlier, i think that somebody from my background probably would not have felt fully comfortable at a college like princeton. this was a time of great intellectual excitement for me. both college and law school opened up new worlds of ideas. but this was back in the late 1960's and early 1970's. it was a time of turmoil at colleges and universities. and i saw some very smart people and very privileged people behaving irresponsibly. i couldn't help making a contrast between some of the worst of what i saw on the campus and the good sense and the decency of the people back in my own community. i'm here in part because of my experiences as a lawyer. i had the good fortune to begin my legal career as a law clerk for a judge who really epitomized open-mindedness and fairness.
he read the record in detail on every single case that came before me. he insisted on scrupulously following precedence, both the precedence of the supreme court and the decisions of his own court, the third circuit. he taught all of his law clerks that every case has to be decided on an individual basis. and he really didn't have much use for any grand theories. after my clerkship finished, i worked for more than a decade as an attorney in the department of justice. and i can still remember the day as an assistant u.s. attorney when i stood up in court for the first time and i proudly said, my name is samuel alito, and i represent the united states in this court. it was a great honor for me to have the united states as my client. during all of those years. i have been shaped by the experiences of the people who
are closest to me. by the things i've learned from martha, by my hopes and my concerns for my children, phillip and laura, by the experiences of members of my family who are getting older. by my sister's experiences as a trial lawyer in a profession that has traditionally been dominated by men. and of course i have been shaped for the last 15 years by my experiences as a judge of the court of appeals. during that time, i have sat on thousands of cases. somebody mentioned the exact figure this morning. i don't know what the exact figure is. but it is way up in the thousands. and i have written hundreds of opinions. the members of this committee and the members of their staff who have had the job of reviewing all of those opinions really had my sympathy.
i think that may have constituted cruel and unusual punishment. i learned a lot during my years on the third circuit. particularly i think about the way in which a judge should go about the work of judging. i've learned by doing, by sitting on all of these cases, and i think i've also learned from the examples of some really remarkable colleagues. when i became a judge, i stopped being a practicing attorney. and that was the big change in role. the role of a practicing attorney is to achieve a desirable result for the client in the particular case at hand. but a judge can't think that way. a judge can't have any agenda, a judge can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case. and a judge certainly doesn't have a client. the judge's only obligation, and it's a solemn obligation, is to the rule of law. what that means is that in every single case, the judge has to do
what the law requires. good judges develop certain habits of mind. one of those habits of mind is the habit of delaying, reaching conclusions, until everything has been considered. good judges are always open to the possibility of changing their minds. based on the next brief that they read or the next argument that's made by an attorney. or a comment that is made by a colleague during the conference on the case. when the judges privately discuss the case. it's been a greater for me to spend my career in public service. it has been a particular honor for me to serve on the court of appeals for these past 15 years. because it has given me the opportunity to use whatever talent i have to serve my country by upholding the rule of law. and there is nothing that is more important for our republic than the rule of law. no person in this country, no
matter how high or powerful, is above the law. and no person in this country is beneath the law. 15 years ago, when i was sworn in as a judge of the court of appeals, i took an oath. i put my hands on the bible and i swore that i would administer justice without respect to persons. that i would do equal right to the poor and to the rich and that i would carry out my duties under the constitution and the laws of the united states. and that is what i have tried to do. to the very best of my ability. for the past 15 years. and if i am confirmed, i pledge to you that that is what i would do on the supreme court. thank you. >> our program on justices of
the supreme court continues with president barack obama's first appointee, sonia sotomayor. she was confirmed 68-31 in 2009. replacing justice david souter, who was appointed by george h.w. bush. judge sotomayor previously served on the second circuit court of appeals. she is the first hispanic to serve on the supreme court. we'll show you a brief portion of justice sotomayor's confirmation hearing, including an introduction by new york senator, charles schumer, and her opening statement. mr. schumer: judge sotomayor embodies what we all strive for as american citizen. her life and her career are not about race or class or gender. although, as for all of us, these are important parts of who she is. her story is about how race and class at the end of the day are not supposed to predetermine anything in america. what matters is hard work and education, and those things will pay off no matter who you are or
where you have come from. it's exactly what each of us wants for ourselves and for our children. and this shared vision is why this moment is historic for all americans. judge sotomayor was born to parents who moved to new york from puerto rico during world war ii. her father was a factory worker with a third grade education. he died when she was 9. her mother worked and raised sotomayor and her brother, juan, now a doctor practicing in syracuse, on her own. sonia sotomayor graduated first in her high school class from high school in 1971. she's returned to that school to speak there. and to encourage future alumni to work hard, get an education, and pursue their dreams the same way she did. when sonia sotomayor was growing up, the nancy drew stories inspired her sense of adventure,
developed her sense of justice, and showed her that women could and should be outspoken and bold. now, in 2009, there are many more role models for a young student to choose from. with judge sotomayor foremost among them. judge sotomayor went on to employ her enormous talents at princeton where she graduated, received the highest honor on a princeton student. this is an award that is given not just to the smartest student in the class, but to the most exceptionally smart student who has also given the most to her community she graduated from yale law school where she was a law review editor and because we have such an extensive judicial record before us, i believe that these hearings will matter less
than for the several previous nominees, or at the least, that these hearings will bear out what is obvious about her. that she is modest and humble in her approach to judging. ms. sotomayor: thank you, mr. chairman. i also want to thank senator schumer and gillibrand for their kind introductions. in recent weeks i have had the privilege and pleasure of meeting 89 senators, including all of the members of this committee. each of you has been gracious to me and i have so much enjoyed meeting you. our meetings have given me an illuminating tour of the 50 states and invaluable insights into the american people. there are countless family members and friends who have done so much over the years to make this day possible. i am deeply appreciative for their love and support.
i want to make one special note of thanks to my mother. i am here, as many of you have noted, because of her aspirations and sacrifices for both my brother juan and me. mom, thank you. i am very grateful to the president and humbled to be here today. as a nominee to the united states supreme court. the progression of my life has been uniquely american. my parents left puerto rico during world war ii. i grew up in modest sirblings in a bronx housing project. my father, a factory work we are a third grade education, passed away when i was 9 years old. on her own, my mother raised my brother and me. she taught us that the key to success in america is as a good education.
and she set the example, studying alongside my brother and me at our kitchen table so that she could become a registered nurse. we worked hard. i poured myself into my studies at cardinal spellman high school, earning scholarships to princeton university and then yale law school, while my brother went on to medical school. our achievements are due to the values that we learned as children and they have continued to guide my life's endeavors. i try to pass on this legacy by serving as a mentor and friend to my many god children. and to students of all backgrounds. over the past three decades, i have seen our judicial system from a number of different perspectives. as a big city prosecutor, as a corporate litigator, as a trial judge, and as an appellate
judge. my first job after law school was as an assistant district attorney in new york. there, i saw children exploited and abused. i felt the pain and suffering of families torn apart by the needless deaths of loves ones. i saw and learned the tough job law enforcement has in protecting the public. in my next legal job, i focused on commercial instead of criminal matters. i litigated issues and advised on everything from copyrights to trademark my career as an advocate ended and my career as
a judge began when i was appointed by president george h.w. bush to the court for the southern district of judge. as a trial judge i preside over dozens of trials. with perhaps my most famous case being the major league baseball strike in 1995. after six extraordinary year on the district court, i was appointed by president clinton to the united states court of appeals for the second circuit. on that court i have enjoyed the benefit of sharing ideas and perspectives with wonderful colleagues. as we have worked together to resolve the issues before us. i have now served as an appellate judge for over a decade, the siding a wide range
of constitutional, statutory and other legal questions. throughout my 17 years on the bench, i have witnessed the human consequences of my decisions. those decisions have not been made to serve the interests of any one litigant, but always to serve the larger interest of impartial justice. in the past month, many senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. simple. fidelity to the law. the task of a judge is not to make law, it is to apply the law. and it is clear, i believe, that my record in two courts reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the constitution according to its terms, interpreting statutes according to their terms, and congress' intent, and huing faithfully to precedents established by the supreme court and by my circuit court. in each case i have heard, i
have applied the law to the facts at hand. the process of judging is enhanced when the arguments and concerns of the parties to the litigation are understood and acknowledged. that is why i generally structure my opinions by setting out what the law requires and then explaining why a contrary position, sympathetic or not, is accepted or rejected. that is how i see -- seek to strengthen both the rule of law and faith in the impartiality of our judicial system. my personal and professional experiences help me to listen and understand, with the law always commanding the result in every case. since president obama announced my nomination in may, i have received letters from people all over this country.
many tell a unique story of hope in spite of struggles. each letter has deeply touched me. each reflects a dream, a belief in the dream that led my parents to come to new york all those years ago. it is our constitution that makes that dream possible. and i now seek the honor of upholding the constitution as a justice on the supreme court. senators, i look forward in the next few days to answering your questions, to having the american people learn more about me, and to being part of a process that reflects the greatness of our constitution and of our nation. thank you all. >> our program on sitting supreme court justices concludes with elena kagan.
nominated by president obama to fill the seat vacated by john paul stevens, she was confirmed in 2010 by a vote of 63-37. she had never been a judge before but had served as solicitor general in the obama administration and as dean at harvard law school. at her confirmation hearing, she was introduced by massachusetts senator john kerry. a reminder that you can watch confirmation hearings for all the current supreme court justices on our video library at c-span.org. >> her life has been characterized by her passion for public service and her awareness of what it means to be a good public citizen. a close friend from her days clerking for justice marshall remains elena interviewing at a big law firm in new york, meeting with a young partner who with no family to support was
in close to $1 million a year. she asked him, what do you do with that money? he replied, i buy art. elena shook her head in the conviction that there really were better ways to expend her life's work and she continued to pursue efforts to more directly impact the lives of those around her. her skills and intellect very quickly came to the attention of the clinton white house. which is when i first got to know her. i had been asked by the chame of the commerce committee, senator hollings, our old friend, to help break through a stalemate on a bipartisan tobacco bill. it was a difficult issue for both caucuses. elena became the administration's point person. when we started out new york one gave us any hope of being close to or getting close to passage. but elee -- elena camped out in the vice president's office off the senate floor, shuttling back and forth to the white house.
she worked day and night equally with both sides of the aisle, working every angle, thinking through every single approach. and on the eve of the commerce committee's markup, things appeared to be falling apart, something we're all too familiar with here. but elena simply wasn't going to let that happen. that was an unacceptable outcome. she got together with th republican senators and staff and she listened carefully and she helped all of us to meet the last-minute objections. it was classic elena. she saw a path forward when most people saw nothing but deadlines. and it led to a 19-1 vote to pass the bill out of committee. a mark of bipartisanship and consensus building that few believed was possible. that's what i believe elena kagan will bring to the court. she was tough. tenacious in argument when
necessary. but she also knew when it was necessary to strike a compromise. she had a knack for knowing how to win people other. an ability to make people see the wisdom of an argument. i remember lots of late nights in a very quiet capitol build, walking off the senate floor to meet with my staff and elena and invariably, elena would be the one to have a new idea, a fresh approach. it was a tutorial in consensus building from someone in whom it was pure enstinth and it won elena the respect of republicans and democrats alike. no doubt her hands on experience working the governance process is actually in this day and age and in this moment of the court probably an enormous asset. frankly, i think it's a critical component of what makes her a terrific choice. someone who really understands how laws are created. and the real world effects of their implementation. it's a reminder of why some of the greatest justices in our history were not judges before
they sat on the court. among those are names like frankfurter and bran dice. i might add -- and brandeis. i might add she brought the same ability for census building to harvard law school. there she found what was affectionately acknowledged, i emphasized affectionately acknowledged, as a dysfunctional and divided campus and transformed it geffen into a cohesive institution, winning praise from students and faculty across the ideological spectrum. elizabeth warren, elena's colleague at harvard and chair of the panel currently overseing our economic relief effort, says simply, she changed morale around here. charles free, the former solicitor general under president reagan and renowned conservative, constitutional expert, says of her prospects as a justice on the supreme court, quote, i think elena would be terrific because frankly the court is stuck.
the great thing about elena is there's a freshness about her that promises some possibility of getting away from the formulas that are wheeled out today on both sides. i have no reservations about her whatsoever. john manning, the first hire under kagan's deanship, a conservative and expert on textulism and separation of powers, says, i think one of the things you see in kagan's dean was -- as dean was that she tried to hire folks with different approaches to law and different ideological perspectives. she was equally as strong in her praise for scalia as she was in her praise for breyer. she celebrated both. it's a good predictor of how she'll be as a judge. she would be fair and impartial. the sort of judge who would
carefully consider briefing and argument in every case. the sort of judge i would want if i didn't know what side of the case i was arguing. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. ms. kagan: senator sessions and members of t committee. i'd like to thank senators kerry and brown for those generous introductions. i also want to thank the president again for nominating me to this position. i'm honor and humbled by his confidence. let me also thank all the members of the committee as well as many other senators for meeting with me in these last several weeks. i discovered that they call these courtesy visits for a reason. each of you has been unfailingly gracious and considerate. i know that we gather here on a day of sorrow for all of you, for this body, and for our nation.
with the passing of senator byrd. i did not know him personally as all of you did, but i certainly knew of his great love for this institution, his faithful service to the people of his state, and his abiding reverence for our constitution. a copy of which he carried with him every day. a moving reminder to each of us who serves in government of the ideals we must seek to fulfill. all of you and all of senator byrd's family and friends are in my thoughts and prayers at this time. i would like to begin by thanking my family, friends, and students who are here with me today. i thank them for all the support they've given me during this process and throughout my life.
it's really wonderful to have so many of them behind me. i said when the president nominated me that the two people missing were my parents. and i feel that deeply again today. my father was as generous and public-spirited a person as i've ever known and my mother set the standard for determineation, courage, and commitment to learning. my parents lived the american dream. they grew up in immigrant communities. my mother didn't speak a word of english until she went to school. but she became a legendary teacher and my father a valued lawyer. and they taught me and my two brothers, both high school teachers, that this is the
greatest of all countries because -- because of the freedoms and opportunities it offers its people. i know that they would have felt that today. and i pray that they would have been proud of what they did in raising me and my brothers. to be nominated to the supreme court is the honor of a lifetime. i'm only sorry that if con filmed, i won't have the privilege of serving there with justice john paul stevens. his integrity, humility, and independence is -- his deep devotion to the court, and his profound commitment to the rule of law, all these qualities are modeled for everyone who wears or hopes to wear a judge's robe. if fwiven this honor, i hope i will approach each case with his trademark care and consideration. that means listening to each party with a mind as open as his to learning and persuasion and striving as conscientiously as he has to render impartial justice. i owe a debt of gratitude to two
other living justices. sandra day o'connor and ruth -- ruth bader ginsburg paved the way for me and so many other women in my generation. their pioneering lives have created boundless possibilities for women in the law. i thank them for their inspiration and also for the personal kindnesses they have shown me. and my heart goes out to justice ginsburg and her family today. everyone who ever met marty ginsburg was enriched by his incredible warmth and humor and generosity and i'm deeply saddened by his passing. mr. chairman, the -- at law school -- the law school i had the good fortune to lead has a
motto spoken each year at graduation. we tell the new graduates that they are ready to enter a profession devoted to those wise restraints that make us free. that phrase has always captured for me the way law and the rule of law matters. what the rule of law does is nothing less than to secure for each of us what our constitution calls the blessings of liberty. those rights and free toms that promise -- rights and freedoms that promise of equality, that have defined this nation since its founding and what the supreme court does is to safeguard the rule of law. through a commitment to evenhandedness, principle, and restraint. my first real exposure to the court came almost a quarter century ago when i began my clerkship with justice thurgood marshall.
justice marshall revered the court. and for a simple reason. in his life, in his great struggle for racial justice, the supreme court stood as the part of government that was most open to every american. and that most often fulfilled our constitution's promise of treating all persons with equal respect, equal care, and equal attention. the idea is engraved on the very face of the supreme court building. equal juste under th it means that everyone who comes before the cou, regardless of
wealth or power or station receives the same process. and the same protections. what this commands of judges is evenhandedness and impartiality. what it promises is nothing less than a fair shake for every american. i've seen that promise up close during my tenure as solicitor general. in that job, i serve as our government's chief lawyer before the supreme court. arguing cases on issues ranging from campaign finance to criminal law to national security. and i do mean argue.
in no other place i know is the strength of a person's position so tested and the quality of a person's analysis so deeply probed. no matter who the lawyer or who the client, the court relentlessly hones in on the merits of every claim and its support in law an precedent. and because this is so, i always come away from my arguments at the court with a renewed appreciation of the commitment of each justice to reason and principle. a commitment that defines what it means to live in a nation under law. for these reasons, the supreme court is a wondrous institution. the time i spent in the other branches of government remind me that it must also be a modest one. properly deferential to the decisions of themerican people and their elected representatives. what i most took away from those experiences was simple admiration for the democratic process. that process is often messy and frustrating. but the people of this country have great wisdom and their
representatives work hard to protect their interests. the supreme court of course has the responsibility of ensuring that our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals. but the court must also recognize the limits on itself and respect the choices made by the american people. i am grateful -- i am grateful beyond measure for the time i spent in public service. but the joy of my life has been to teach thousands of students about the law and to have had the sense to realize that they had much to teach me. i've led a school whose faculty and students examine and discuss and debate every aspect of our law and legal system. and what i've learned most is that no one has a monopoly on truth or wisdom. i've learned that we make
progress by listening to each other. across every apparent political or ideological divide. i've learned that we come closest to getting things right when we approach every person and every issue with an open mind. and and i've learn the value of a habit justice stevens wrote about more than 50 years ago. of understanding before disagreeing. i will make no pledge this is week other than this one, that if confirmed, i will remember and abide by all these lessons. i will listen hard. to every party before the court and to each of my colleagues. i will work hard.
and i will do my best to consider every case impartially, modestly, with commitment to principle and in accordance with law. that is what i owe to the legacy i share with so many americans. my grandparents came to this country in search of a freer and better life for themselves and their families. they wanted to escape big triand oppression, to work ship -- bigotry and oppression, to worship as they please and work as hard as they were able. they found in this country, and ey passed on to their children and their children's children, the blessings of liberty. those blessings are rooted in this country's constitution and its historic commitment to the rule of law.
i know that to sit on our nation's highest court is to be a trustee of that inheritance and if i had the honor to be -- if i have the honor to be confirmed, i will do all i can to help preserve it for future generations. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, members of the committee. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] it is expected to last three days. you can find it online at c-span.org, listen to the hearing on the c-span radio app and we will re-air it monday night at 8:30 p.m. on c-span2. >> this week is sunshine week, an annual campaign for greater access to government. it is also c-span's anniversary week.
the house of representatives opened its debates to tv cameras for the first time and the cable television industry launched c-span to bring congress into america's homes. >> mr. speaker, on this historic day, the house of representatives opens its savings for the first time to tevised coverage. i want to congratulate you for your courage in making this possible, and the committee which has worked so hard under the leadership to make this a reality. television will change this institution just as it has changed the executive ranch. the good will far outweigh the bad. this day forward, every ember -- member of this hottie must ask himself or herself how many americans are listening to the debate which is made.
when the house becomes comfortable with changes wrought by television coverage, the news media will be allowed to bring their own cameras into this chamber. every word is available for podcast coverage and journalists will be able to use and edit as they see fit. the solution for the lack of confidence is more open government at all levels. i hope that the leadership of the united states senate will see this as a friendly challenge. >> general time has expired. has the potential to revitalize representative democracy. >> in 1986, the cable industry launched c-span2 to carry the senate live. all our congressional coverage is broadcast live and is searchable for free on c-span.org.